Use the Right Mindset to Free Your Creativity

Are you one of the many people whose mindset is that you are not creative? Your mindset affects the way you see your life, work, friends, and family. It frees you to explore or blocks you from your potential. Use the right mindset to free your creativity.

Against a background of spring green is a black silhouette of a woman with a brain sketched where it should be and the words "Use the right mindset to free your creativity."

What is a Mindset?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines mindset as “1: a mental attitude or inclination 2: a fixed state of mind.”

Many experts discuss mindset in terms of two large categories: Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset.

People with a fixed mindset believe they cannot change their abilities, intelligence, or talents. They see those things as forever fixed. Their primary goal in life becomes to use what they have and to not look stupid or silly.

A growth mindset believe they can maximize their potential. They will try to maximize whatever they are interested in.

More than One

The difficulty of mindset is that most of us aren’t one or the other. We often have a growth mindset in some areas of our lives and a fixed mindset in others. Our mindset might be fluid according to our activity or age or other influences.

For years, I knew I was a creative and had a strong growth mindset in the skills and talents I saw as part of my creativity. But I had the opposite mindset about math. I believed I was not good at mathematics, that I simply couldn’t learn higher math. I had a fixed mindset about mathematics.

Growth and fixed are large umbrella terms for mindset.

Four Specific Mindsets

There are smaller, more specific types of mindsets. I’ll list four here.


A negative mindset is the attitude that criticizes everything and everyone. Every step will end in failure, no matter what. This is a fixed mindset. One cannot be creative in a negative mindset.


A linear mindset is just what it says. Then mental attitude or inclination is to think and move linearly. This is a valuable mindset that allows you to break a bigger task down into smaller steps.


A structural mindset is the inclination to put a framework to an unstructured problem. This mindset doesn’t seek answers outside that framework. But this mindset is also useful. To every creative endeavor, there are structural components that frame the execution of that endeavor. With stories, its beginning, middle, end (plus a lot more). With knitting, it is needle sizes, position of needle and yarn, and number of stitches (at the least). It’s helpful to apply a structural mindset to creative projects. A structural mindset can be limiting if you can’t step away from it to be creative.


Image is of a small brick building with heavy duty electrical wires coming for it to somewhere off camera. On the building is a colorful sketch of a sunflower and the words "always room to grow."

A creative mindset is a mental attitude or inclination to be creative. Read that again. A mental attitude is the key—not talent or ability. It an attitude that allows you to think, feel, and express creativity in your endeavors.

If you’ve decided you are someone who can bring something into existence—you already have a creative mindset. If you’ve decided you are not creative, you have a fixed idea of what you cannot do. You have a fixed mindset.

Characteristics of a Creative Mindset

According to Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D. some characteristics of a creative mindset are:

  • Believes in One’s Own Creativity
  • Embraces Curiosity
  • Suspends Judgement—Silences the Inner Critic
  • Tolerates Ambiguity
  • Persists Even When Confronted with Skepticism & Rejection
  • Taps Into Childlike Imagination; a Child’s Sense of Wonder

Longtime readers of this blog know I agree with the “taps into childlike imagination.” See my post “Be a Child.” I agree with the other characteristics as well. But, silencing the inner critic and tolerates ambiguity need a brief explanation.

Judgement and the Inner Critic

Being able to suspend judgement and silence the inner critic isn’t a black and white situation. Judgement and inner critics will interrupt or stop a creative mindset. But judgement and inner critics are also a necessary piece of being a creative—at the right time.

Creatives must learn to suspend negative judgement and silence the negative inner critic. Negative mindset holds you back from the act of creation. Ideas must be able to flow freely without interference. It’s okay, in fact, it’s helpful, to make mistakes and improve your methods. Use your growth mindset judgement and inner critic to help you evaluate your creation when you are having difficulty executing your idea or when it’s complete.

Tolerating Ambiguity

What Ms. Gerstein meant to express in the idea of tolerating ambiguity revolves around idea creation. She states tolerating ambiguity is the ability to give way to new ideas, other viewpoints, etc.

I would reword this. Creatives must “tolerate the incubation of ideas.” Most creatives don’t have a complete creative idea pop into their heads. The development of a creative idea often comes over days, weeks, months, and even years. The more practice you have with creative thinking, the more quickly ideas will come. But ideas are often more like a treasure hunt than an instant step-by-step plan.

A Creative Mindset

image of scrabble tiles placed in a square spelling out yes you can.

Your mindset is at least 80% of your success. Some experts put it at 90% or more. Don’t let your mindset be a roadblock. Use the right mindset to free your creativity.

What Is Bad Will Be Better Tomorrow

In my year-end review process I go through my old journals to get a sense of where I was last year and five years ago. It helps me to see what my goals were, what I’ve accomplished, and where my goals changed.  This year something I wrote five years ago, caught my attention. I don’t remember the details but can read between the lines. I had said something out loud about my dream of being a successful writer and it paralyzed me for a while. It’s been a rough year–again. But the little free verse that I wrote five years ago speaks to me today about more than my writing. What is bad will be better tomorrow.

What is bad will be better tomorrow

I Dreamed and was Afraid

I dreamed aloud today. I boasted of my writing abilities.

And I grew afraid. I’m not that good.

And I wasn’t.

I dreamed a quiet dream. And I whispered I will try.

And still I was afraid.

But I tried.

And words meandered across the page.

I stopped dreaming. And I wrote.

I was still afraid.

But I did it anyway.

And words marched and plodded and stumbled and fell.

It wasn’t that good.

But it was getting better.

I dreamed on paper today.

And the words sailed and danced across the page.

What was good was very good.

And what was bad, will be better when I dream again.

Lynette M Burrows

©April 5, 2013

It makes me smile today. Am I living the dream? Yes and no. I’m not famous. I’m certainly not making much money. But I’m doing what I love every day. And the last two lines apply to more than my writing. It’s the optimist in me. I tend to see life as mostly good–even when bad things happen. Because what is good, is very good. How about you? Do you keep journals? Do you ever look back and find a small gem? Do you think what is bad will be better tomorrow?

The Development of a Puppy and a Novelist Are the Same

As readers of this blog know, I have a puppy. His name is Neo. He’s almost 9 months old now. He’s still a baby. Neo entertains me, delights me, and sometimes frustrates me. And being a puppy he grows through developmental stages. But I’ve also realized that the growth and development of the puppy are the same as the novelist. Now you’re looking at me like I’m stupid. Bear with me, I’ll explain.

Neonate (Week 0-2)


The puppy is blind and deaf and toothless. He can touch and taste but cannot regulate his body temperature. Growing fast, he needs to eat every two hours. He interacts with mother and her siblings and starts learning simple social skills.

The neo-novelist can read and write. She is hungry and consumes copious amounts of how-to-write books, blog posts, paper, and office supplies. She stays close to home and may interact with a mentor and fellow writers. Simple writing skills develop.

The Transition Period (Week 2-4)

The puppy’s eyes open. He starts to respond to sounds, and lights, and movement. He usually crawls but he can stand and stumble around. His baby teeth begin to come in. He also begins to realize when he is passing waste.

The new writer’s eyes are open when she realizes that she’s written dozens of story beginnings that go nowhere. The awful beginnings are a pile of—are shoved in the drawer. She can string sentences together into paragraphs and pages. Her sense of story is beginning to develop. She understands that writing is a skill. She reads tons and experiments with different kinds of writing. A wobbly first draft is written. The draft morphs into something that has little walking power. She learns that there are layers of writing and when done well her words bark.

The First Socialization Period (Week 4-7)

It’s time to introduce the pup noises, people, and other pets in your home. Good experiences will shape how the pup interacts with these things later in life. Mother teaches the puppy not to bite all the time and she begins to wean the pup. At about 5 weeks of age, the puppy begins to enjoy playtime.

The young writer learns to play with words, with ideas, with concepts. She practices her skills. She interacts with other writers, with readers, and people in general. Positive reinforcement is critical to her continued growth. She gets guidance from reading, from critique groups, and/or from mentors.

The Second Stage of Socialization & The Fear Period (about Week 8-12)

The pup may go through a fear stage. Everything frightens him, even things he has known and tolerated in the past. He learns simple commands. He sleeps better through the night and has better control of his bladder and bowels.

The young writer fears she’s too isolated and that her creativity will shrivel up. She’s afraid she’s an imposter. Fears send many pages to File 13. Interactions with other people help her recognize character traits and goals. She learns to control her writing and to command the story, though sometimes the story commands her.

The Juvenile Stage (3-4 months)

At this stage, the pup is more independent and may ignore commands. He starts to test authority. He needs gentle reminders that allow him to learn who he is, but remind him of how to interact with others.

The writer starts to write what she wants because she wants to. The story grows on the page. She may go through a stage where she ignores the tried and true writing guidelines. Gentle critiques will help her grow, help her learn when to ignore the guidelines and when to follow them.

The Ranking Stage (3-6 months)

The pup is somewhat bratty, willful, and independent. He’s understanding ranking and testing where he fits in the pack. He is also teething.

The writer looks around and compares herself to others. She knows she is a better writer than some and fears she’ll never measure up to others. She chews on her writing with greater and greater complexity.

Adolescent Stage (6-18 months)


The puppy may look full grown, but he’s still learning. He is full of energy and exuberance. He may go through another fear period. But he still needs training and guidance.

The journeyman writer writes what she knows. Her writing has matured. She writes with energy and exuberance. She may hit the fear of being an imposter during this time. Her support group offers her reassurances, training, and guidance. Her writing continues to mature.

Adulthood (18 months and older)

The pup matures into a loyal companion who works hard, plays hard, and loves with his whole body.

The journeyman writer writes on a professional level. She works hard at something she loves with her whole being. And she continues to learn and grow. Now she’s aware that her next spurt of development will take her skills to a higher level. The journeyman writer recognizes that this is how she grows in her craft and leans into the process.

How Long Does It Take?

Puppies don’t become adults until they’re 1 to 2 years of age. Remember we claim that dog ages are the equal of seven years of adult human life. Does that mean 7 to 14 years must pass for us to become mature in our creativity? For some, it may be shorter and others it may be longer. How can you speed the process? Stay open to learning new things, read and read and read, and write and write and write.

Now you know how the growth and development of the puppy are the same as the novelist. You can be a puppy novelist, too. Work hard, play hard, and love the process. I know I do.

7 Determined Steps to Destiny

Are you waiting for your destiny to be fulfilled? According to Merriam-Webster destiny is “a predetermined course of events often held to be an irresistible power or agency.” To believe in destiny is a powerful and romantic thing. But success based on destiny is rare. Perhaps it is your misbelief in destiny that holds you back. Don’t take that to mean that you’re destined to fail. March right up to your dream of success with these 7 determined steps to destiny. Make your success happen.

How do you do that? There are all kinds of articles with all kinds of lists of things to do that will make you successful. I’ve boiled them down to the 7 determined steps to your destiny.

Match Your Why with Your What

Your why is important. It’s unique to you. Out of your past experiences, there is an emotion or an event that is significant to you. It’s what makes you feel authentic and complete.

Let your why guide you. You may not be able to work the job of your dreams, the one that most aligns with your why, right this minute. That’s okay. You can take baby steps and still get there.

Practice Perseverance

Delay gratification. Focus on commitment, not motivation. What will you sacrifice to make it? An evening’s entertainment? A high-dollar haircut? Or a couple of hours of sleep?

Stop information overload. Learn what you need for today and for tomorrow. Don’t worry about what you’ll need in the future. Baby steps, remember?

Embrace the Mindset for Success

Seek discovery, improvement, exploration, experimentation. Make the journey fun. You’ll stick with it a lot longer and results will take care of themselves.

Stop Self-Sabotage. The things you say to yourself have superpowers. Stop looking for perfect, Stop seeing problems, find opportunities. Don’t rely on others. Get rid of distractions. Support yourself and your why.

Acknowledge that success means change and change is scary. Change can be difficult. Prepare your mindset to accept that things will change as you grow into your role as a success.

Act It to Be It

Use your imagination. Visualize yourself as successful. See yourself at the end of your journey to your destiny. If you don’t feel confident right now, act as if your confident. Pretty soon you’ll feel more confident and it won’t be an act.

Don’t Avoid Failure

Reject the idea that failing defines you as a failure. Failure is a good thing. It helps you re-evaluate and refocus your efforts. You learn what doesn’t work which sets you up to win.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” —Thomas A Edison

Take Action Today

Start with the end in mind. That role you want to play? List the steps you need to take to make your success happen. Those are your goals. Break them down into baby steps. Focus on time-sensitive goals first. Grade or rank your goals. It doesn’t matter if it’s a perfect list. You can make a new list any time. Take at least one action on that list every day. That’s how you take baby steps. And baby steps add up.

Find What Works for You.

Protect yourself from burnout. You can’t do all the things at once. You have other responsibilities. Delegate what you can of those other responsibilities. Sacrifice some of those responsibilities. Will it matter if the dusting is only done once a week or once a month?

That’s it. It’s not easy. It’s not for the faint of heart. Do it anyway. Follow those 7 determined steps to your destiny. The journey will be worth it.

Twenty-One Ways to Be Kind to Yourself

Have you ever thought about defining what it means to be kind? When you look the word ‘kind’ up in the dictionary it says of a friendly, warm, and generous nature. Do you think of yourself as a kind person? Is that how you treat yourself? Do you know how to be kind to yourself?


Practice kindness to yourself every day. If you normally do one thing per day, today do two. The following day do three kind things for yourself. Keep adding one kind act per day until the habit is your natural routine.

  1. Forgive yourself for not being perfect.
  2. Shut down negative self-talk.
  3. Take good care of yourself. Get enough sleep. Eat nutritiously. Get exercise.
  4. Respect yourself—honor your opinion, trust yourself.
  5. Tell yourself that “I am enough.”
  6. Invest in yourself. Spend 15 minutes reading or listening to inspirational talks or music.
  7. Smile at yourself in the mirror.
  8. Pay yourself a compliment.
  9. Buy yourself some flowers.
  10. Take a bubble bath.
  11. Write a letter of appreciation to yourself.
  12. Give yourself 15 minutes to induldge in your favorite activity.
  13. Treat yourself to a favorite food or drink or a small gift.
  14. Find one part of your physical self and praise it.
  15. Identify one part of your emotional self and praise it.
  16. Honor your dreams. Don’t call them silly, fantasies, or any other derogatory term.
  17. Show yourself compassion. If you stumble, be your own best friend.
  18. Take a laugh break—watch a comedy, youtube, or cute videos.
  19. Take a break from electronics for a day. Talk a walk in the woods, read a book, or listen to music.
  20. Do something kind for someone else. If you need ideas, refer to the first 9 ways you can be kind to yourself. If you still need some inspiration, visit
  21. Start a kindness diary. Write your daily kindness plan down each morning and record the kindness you showed yourself and others.


Twenty-one ways to be kind to yourself,
Nadeem / Pixabay

Finally, I’d like to share a few quotes to copy into your kindness diary.

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop


Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. Lao Tzu


For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. Audrey Hepburn

How will you be kind to yourself today?